Mumbai: Rural women turning digitally literate

Mumbai: From booking gas cylinders to obtaining a 7/12 extract, women in rural Maharashtra usually visit the concerned offices personally and stand in long serpentine lines, this, despite the digital boom in the country.

The reason one can cite is the low digital literacy among rural women unlike their counterparts in urban areas or the metro cities.

Now, the rural women are getting lessons on using android phones and various mobile apps to make their lives simpler. They are being taught how to use the essential apps, social media and how to keep data safe.

This is part of the special drive to make rural women digitally literate. Launched by Maharashtra State Commission for Women (MSCW), the drive enables women to use a smart phone and digital media for daily use.

“The present generation is dominated by digital media and one can see there is a separate and dedicated application for every service—food, groceries, banking.

The apps are used extensively by everyone in cities but not preferred by rural people,” said Vijaya Rahatkar, MSCW chief, adding, rural women are not well-versed with electronic gadgets and apps available on the digital platforms.

“Thus, we approached NGOs, educational institutions and other firms to help us teach women to use social media and various apps. Fortunately, over 500 such institutions were roped in. Now, the campaigns are going on in 500 remote Maharashtra,” said Rahatkar.

Notably, MSCW has spent over Rs1 crore on this and targets to educate at least one lakh women.

Activist Rajashree Burkule, who taught women to make good use of digital media in Nashik, said the rural women have shown keen interest in learning the new concepts.

“We began with teaching them how to make use of mobile apps as we noted their lives are limited to using WhatsApp and FB or clicking pis,” said Burkule.

“But now after the sessions, I can say almost all the women (who attended the session) can book gas cylinders online, can shop (both groceries and clothing) on the net.

They have learnt how to get their 7/12 extracts, to make e-payments or transfer money,” Burkule said, adding, the women are taught to use Umang app, which provides over 400 services or govt schemes, apart from Tejaswini app, started by MSCW to provide legal, medical and police help.

“I am confident now and can easily use a few applications like for groceries or the ones for some government scheme. I am happy that much of my work is completed in a single click,” said Sushila Chavan from Pune.

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